(Carson Wentz threw a touchdown on this play. More on that later.)
By Matt Szczypiorski, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer
With the era of Washington “Redskins” football officially over, and the Eagles being the first opponent of the new, but not improved, “Washington Football Team,” it seems like as good a time as ever to take a stroll down memory lane and remember the best moments from the Eagles-Redskins rivalry.
The two teams first matchup occurred in October of 1934 and they have had plenty of memorable moments since then.
Washington leads the all-time series with a record of 86-79-5 against the Birds. The Redskins also won the only postseason game between the two rivals in the 1990 Wild Card round by a score of 20-6.
Yet, that is not the most remembered Eagles-Redskins game from that season.
Since the turn of the century, the Eagles have won 25 of the 40 matchups, including each of the last six games. Three of those six games will be mentioned in this top ten, which proves how wild this rivalry has been as of late.
#10: Chip Kelly’s Debut
Week one of the 2013 season represented a new era for the Eagles, as it would be their first game without the franchise's all-time wins leader, Andy Reid, since 1999. It was the debut of the highly-anticipated Chip Kelly and his flashy college style offense.
In the first half, the Eagles offense looked better than the Greatest Show on Turf. Kelly’s high-flying offense thoroughly dominated time of possession even with the highly anticipated fast-pace.
Michael Vick, who beat out Nick Foles for the starting job in camp, threw 25+ yard touchdowns to DeSean Jackson and fan-favorite Brent Celek. He then added a 3-yard rushing touchdown of his own off of a read option, and the Eagles led 26-7 at half.
In the third quarter, running back LeSean McCoy scampered into the end zone from 33 yards out to extend the Bird’s lead to 33-7. In classic Philly sports fashion, the Redskins then scored 20 unanswered points to make it a one-score game with less than two minutes remaining.
However, the Eagles recovered the ensuing onside kick to ensure the victory, and the Chip Kelly experiment was rockin’ and rollin’. The Eagles would go on to win the NFC East, while Washington would self-destruct and finish 3-13.
-QB Mike Vick: 15-25, 203 yards passing, 2 TD’s, 54 yards rushing, rush TD
-RB LeSean McCoy: 184 yards rushing, TD
-WR DeSean Jackson: 7 receptions, 104 yards receiving, TD
#9: Eric Allen Saves The Day
Heading into this week 16 matchup, if the Eagles won the game they would clinch a playoff berth. The Redskins, the defending Super Bowl champions, were also competing for a spot in the postseason.
If it had not been for the very final play of the game, this edition of Redskins-Eagles probably would not have made the list. The Eagles led 17-13 in the fourth quarter, but Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien had driven Washington to the doorstep of the Eagles end zone with just two ticks left on the clock.
From the five-yard line, Rypien took the final snap and looked toward fellow receiver Gary Clark, who was being covered by youngster Otis Smith. This was a clear advantage for Clark, who had five 1,000 yard seasons to his credit at that point in his career.
However, Eagles all-pro cornerback Eric Allen also knew this. As soon as the ball was snapped, Allen ditched his man -- leading receiver of the game, Ricky Sanders -- and ran toward Clark as Rypien was firing the ball in his direction.
Allen dove and was just able to get his fingertips on the ball, knocking it away from Clark just far enough that it was out of reach. The Eagles won the game and clinched a playoff berth. Both teams made the playoffs and eventually lost in the divisional round.
-QB Randall Cunningham: 13-24, 149 yards passing, TD, INT, 28 yards rushing
-RB Heath Sherman: 96 yards rushing, TD
-LB Seth Joyner: Sack, INT
#8: The Greatest Comeback You’ve Never Heard Of
In 1946, the NFL had just ten teams. Through the first 13 years of their existence, the Eagles had not been one of the successful ones. The Redskins, on the other hand, had won the NFL’s eastern division and made the NFL Championship six times since their inception in 1932. They had two NFL Championships to show for it.
This season, however, was the beginning of somewhat of a role reversal for the two teams, and it began with their week five meeting on October 27, 1946.
The Redskins manhandled the Eagles in the first half and led 24-0 at halftime. Yet, the Eagles rallied almost all the way back by the later stages of the fourth quarter, fighting to make the score 24-21.
Then, Eagles quarterback Tommy Thompson threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Jack Ferrante to give the Eagles the lead 28-24. That score would hold, and the Eagles shocked the 33,000 people in the stands at D.C.’s Griffith Stadium.
The 24-point comeback by the Eagles was the only one of it’s kind for the NFL’s first 60 years, and it remains one of just three comebacks of such a deficit to be overcome in regulation. It persists, somewhat surprisingly, as the Eagles largest comeback victory in their 86 years of play. Perhaps even more surprising is that it is still the biggest collapse in Washington’s history.
(There were no recorded individual stats for this game.)
#7: The Start Of Something Special
Heading into the 2017 season, the Eagles were projected to be better than the 7-9 team they were the year prior. Still, a lot of the team was a mystery. Carson Wentz was a mystery. This game taught all the fans watching that there was nothing mysterious about the 2017 Eagles. They were better than advertised.
On the first possession of the season, Carson Wentz made one of his most memorable plays of the year, and the play that we all know this game for. On a 3rd & 12, Wentz eluded the pressure of two Redskins rushers, spun in two different directions, stepped up and fired deep to the wide open, but not-so-sure handed Nelson Agholor.
Agholor, to the shock of everyone at home, caught the ball, broke a tackle and raced into the end zone. In retrospect, Agholor making that kind of a play should have been Eagles fans’ first clue that this season would be different.
Throughout the second half of the game, the Eagles defense was the definition of bend but don’t break. They held Washington to just two field goals, and Jalen Mills made a huge interception in the red zone. The biggest play they made, though, was on the Redskins final chance to take the lead, trailing 22-17 late in the fourth.
Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham knocked the ball loose from Kirk Cousins, and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox scooped the ball up and ran in for a 20-yard touchdown. After a lengthy review trying to determine if the play would be ruled as an incomplete pass rather than a fumble, the officials declared there wasn't enough evidence to overturn the call. That decision came to the surprise of, quite frankly, everyone.
The Eagles would tack on a 2-point conversion and escape the game with a sheepish grin as well as a 30-17 win. Kirk Cousins did not like that.
-QB Carson Wentz: 26-39, 307 yards, 2 TD’s, INT
-TE Zach Ertz: 8 receptions, 93 yards receiving
-WR: Nelson Agholor: 6 receptions, 86 yards receiving, TD
-DE: Brandon Graham: 2 sacks, forced fumble
#6: The Game "The Bodyguard" Earned His Nickname
Heading into this Week 3 matchup in 2014, the storyline was the return of DeSean Jackson after he was (wrongfully) cut by head coach Chip Kelly. The game turned out to be a better than advertised roller coaster of emotions.
The Eagles fought back from an early 10-point first half deficit to take a 21-20 lead into halftime after rookie Jordan Matthews’ first two touchdowns of his career. Not to be outdone, DeSean Jackson then torched the Birds secondary in the third quarter with one of his patented long-yardage touchdowns, then did the Eagle celebration in the end zone (ouch). The game was tied at 27.
That’s when things started to get chippy. With ten minutes remaining and the score still knotted at 27, Nick Foles threw what looked to be a costly interception. On the return, Foles was clocked by a blindside cheap-shot from Redskins defensive tackle Chris Baker, and remained on the turf for a few minutes.
Pure pandemonium ensued.
Eagles left tackle Jason Peters was seemingly the only Eagle who saw the hit. He didn’t even let Baker get off the field before shoving him and getting a few punches to the facemask in. There was a big ole brew-ha-ha as the benches began to empty, and Peters and Baker were both ejected.
The interception didn’t even count. The ball hit the ground. All that over an incompletion.
Lo and behold, Foles stayed in the game and on that same drive would end up finding Jeremy Maclin in the end zone to give the Eagles a 34-27 lead. Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins would throw away just about every chance Washington had of getting back into the game. He was picked off by Malcolm Jenkins on the next possession, and would turn the ball over on downs in the Redskins final series while trailing by three.
The Eagles held on for a wild 37-34 win. Neither team made the playoffs this season, even though the Eagles went 10-6.
-QB Nick Foles: 27-41, 325 yards passing, 3 TD’s
-WR Jeremy Maclin: 8 receptions, 154 yards receiving, TD
-WR Jordan Matthews: 8 receptions, 59 receiving yards, 2 TD’s
-LT Jason Peters: 1 Knockout, 52 Captain Votes
September 21, 2014: Nick Foles turns in one of the gutsiest performances in recent Eagles history to lead the team to 3-0 on the year.— Eagles Fan Problems (@EagleFanProbs) September 5, 2018
With tempers flaring and fighting all sorts of injuries, Foles unleashes for 325 yards and 3 TDs in a 37-34 win. pic.twitter.com/NK8jTbSuuU
#5: Where Were You For The Greg Ward Game?
You may think there is some recency bias behind me putting this game so high on the list. To you I say get over it, because this game had everything.
The only way the Eagles were making the postseason coming into this game was if they were to beat the Redskins and then win the two games that followed. It was quite literally the most important game of the season at that time.
The game was surprisingly back and forth, as many outsiders thought this game wouldn’t be close given that the Redskins had won only three games all year. Eagles fans knew better though, as they were playing without their top three wide receivers, among many injuries.
In the fourth quarter, the Eagles trailed 27-24 after a frustrating Carson Wetnz fumble on the previous possession. Wentz responded by leading the Eagles down the field, converting on multiple key third downs. There was even a one-handed catch by tight end Dallas Goedert.
The main man of the series, however, was quarterback turned practice squad receiver Greg Ward Jr. He did not play like someone who belonged on the practice squad on this series. Ward had 3 receptions for 36 yards on the drive, each reception resulting in a first down for the Birds.
On 1st & goal from the 4-yard line with just 26 seconds remaining, Wentz lofted a ball toward the back pylon on the far side of the field. The intended target was none other than Ward, who was covered by a former all-pro cornerback in Josh Norman. Ward out-leaped Norman, came down with the ball, and Fedex Field began to shake due to the fact that the stadium was filled with mostly Eagles fans.
Here is the touchdown.
Here was my immediate reaction.
WHERE WERE YOU FOR THE GREG WARD GAME— Ski (@matt_ski15) December 15, 2019
The Eagles would add an insult-to-injury defensive touchdown by Nigel Bradham on the last play of the game, and the Eagles won 37-27 while also covering the spread of -5.5. The Eagles would go on to win their final two games and earn the NFC East crown.
-QB Carson Wentz: 30-43, 266 yards passing, 3 TD’s
-RB Miles Sanders: 122 yards rushing, 6 receptions, 50 yards receiving, 2 Total TD’s
-WR Greg Ward Jr.: 7 receptions, 61 yards, 1 season-saving TD
#4: The “How Did He Do That?” Game
This game was Carson Wentz's coming out party to the nation. On a Monday night in October, Wentz firmly solidified his status as the front-runner for the 2017 MVP. The game itself was never truly that close as the Eagles took the lead into the half. Once Wentz started becoming a magician in the second half, the game was over.
There are two specific plays that every Eagles and Redskins fan remembers from this game. The first jaw-dropper came in the early third quarter with the Eagles up by 7 and threatening for more in the Washington red zone.
It was a 3rd & goal from the 9-yard line when Wentz took the snap, avoided some pressure only to run into two more Redskins, then flutter the prettiest duck you’ve ever seen toward the near sideline of the end zone. How he got the pass off, I’m still not sure. How he got the pass to the perfect spot where only running back Corey Clement could catch it, is downright witchcraft.
The next memorable play came on the second play of the fourth quarter. On a crucial 3rd & 8 in their own territory with Washington only down seven, Wentz pulled another rabbit out of his hat. Washington’s pressure quickly surrounded Wentz to the point where nobody could see him, as there were bodies falling all around him.
Just as everyone at the Linc was about to let out a disgruntled moan, Wentz popped out from the wreckage and sprinted ahead toward nothing but green grass. Wentz went untouched for about 15 yards before being tackled, picking up a huge first down for the Birds. Announcers, media, and fans alike, were in utter disbelief. The replay still didn’t provide much of an answer as to how Carson escaped the pocket pandemonium.
Witchcraft, I tell you!
Wentz would throw his fourth touchdown of the night later on that drive, putting the proverbial nail in the Redskins coffin. The Eagles won 34-24, Wentz took the league by storm, and I don’t need to tell anyone reading this how the 2017 season ended.
-QB Carson Wentz: 17-25, 268 yards passing, 4 TD’s, INT, 63 yards rushing
-TE Zach Ertz: 5 receptions, 89 receiving yards, TD
-WR Nelson Agholor, WR Mack Hollins, RB Corey Clement: Receiving TD each
#3: “Give it up, Big Al! Give it up!”
The second game of the 1989 season did not start out well for Buddy Ryan’s Eagles. Before anyone could blink, the Eagles faced a 20-point first quarter deficit with not even 10 minutes gone in the game. By halftime, Washington led by a score of 30-14.
Behind some Randall Cunningham heroics, the Eagles had nearly come all the way back. They had cut the deficit to just two with less than two minutes remaining. However, Washington got the ball back and was running out the clock. That’s when the impossible happened.
With just over a minute to go, Eagles linebacker Seth Joyner forced Redskins running back Gerald Riggs to cough up the football. Defensive lineman Al Harris jumped on the ball and the Eagles were in business.
But the play didn’t end there. Harris realized that nobody had touched him, and before he even had time to think, Eagles defensive back Wes Hopkins (R.I.P.), forced him up while simultaneously ripping the ball from the big man’s grip.
Harris remembers Hopkins yelling, “Give it up big Al! Give it up!”
Hopkins then took off down the near sideline, quicker than the camera man could realize, and was eventually tracked down at the 4-yard line after a 77 yard-return. The officials had to review the play, but determined it the events of the play stood.
On the ensuing 1st & goal, quarterback Randall Cunningham rolled to his right and zipped a bullet to wide open tight end Keith Jackson for a touchdown. Eagles defensive tackle Jerome Brown would force a fumble on the next possession, securing an Eagles victory.
The Eagles inexplicably won 42-37, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
-QB Randall Cunningham: 34-46, 447 yards passing, 5 TD’s, INT
-TE Keith Jackson: 12 receptions, 126 yards receiving, 3 TD’s
-RB Keith Byars: 8 receptions, 130 yards receiving
-DB Wes Hopkins: Stripped the ball from his own teammate, 77-yard return
#2: The Monday Night Massacre
Heading into this mid-November Monday night matchup, the storyline was that Donovan McNabb was making his second start against the Eagles. Ten years later, what most people remember about this game has nothing to do with McNabb, and everything to do with who the Eagles started at quarterback that night.
On the very first play from scrimmage, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick fired the most beautiful, accurate deep ball I’ve ever seen to wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Jackson hauled in the pass, broke a tackle, and scampered into the end zone for an 88-yard touchdown.
The Eagles would go on to score three more touchdowns in the first quarter to lead 28-0. Who could forget Eagles legend, running back Jerome Harrison, running for a 50-yard touchdown (a lot of people)! Vick also scored his first rushing touchdown of the game in that first quarter.
Vick was just getting started.
On the first play of the second quarter, Vick threw a deep ball down the near sideline to Jeremy Maclin that could only be described as a “heat check.” Maclin hauled in the pass, kept his feet and buttcheeks in bounds, and the Eagles were up 35-0. Later in the quarter, Vick would add yet another touchdown, this time with his feet. The Eagles went into the locker room up by a score of 45-14.
Fourty. Five. Points. In the first half.
The rest of the game was played only because the Washington Redskins could not forfeit, no matter how much they wanted to. Vick would add an insult-to-injury touchdown to Jason Avant, a play in which Vick stood still in the pocket for approximately 26 minutes, as Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth laid face down on the turf.
Haynesworth wasn’t hurt or anything, he just refused to chase Vick anymore. The Eagles won the game 59-28 and would go on to win the NFC East behind Vick’s MVP runner-up season.
-QB Michael Vick: 20-28, 333 yards passing, 80 yards rushing, 6 Total TD’s
-RB: Jerome Harrison: 109 yards rushing, TD
-CB: Dimitri Patterson: 2 INT’s, 40-yard Pick-Six
#1: The Body Bag Game
One of the most famously-named games in not only Eagles history, but sports history.
The Body Bag Game. What a frightening, yet awesome name for a football game. The name was well-earned, too. Ask any Eagles fan who watched this game, and their face will immediately light up and they'll tell you stories about what they remember from that night.
This game is so great for Eagles fans to reminisce on because not a lot of fans could tell you about who scored in that game or what the final score even was. What fans do remember, however, is the fact that the Eagles defense was so ferocious that night that they injured nine different Redskins.
Two of those nine injured players included both quarterbacks the Redskins had on the active roster, Jeff Rutledge and Stan Humphries. That led to running back Brian Mitchell being forced into quarterback duties for nearly the entire fourth quarter.
Adding to the defensive masterpiece was the fact that the Eagles scored two defensive touchdowns. An interception return by defensive back William Frizzell, and a fumble return by defensive lineman Clyde Simmons.
The fumble that resulted in a touchdown also resulted in the injury of the aforementioned Rutledge. The guy who caused the fumble because of his bone crushing hit was defensive back Wes Hopkins, who had the big play in the September meeting the year prior, the #3 game on this list.
The Eagles won the game 28-14, but it really wasn’t as close as the score indicates. The only bitter part about this game from an Eagles fan perspective is that the Redskins would knock out the Eagles in the playoffs later that season.
But who cares? That game doesn’t have a cool name.
-DE Reggie White: 2 Sacks, INT, 33-yard return
-DB Wes Hopkins: Sack, Forced Fumble
-DL Clyde Simmons, DB William Frizzell: Defensive TD Each
1990 - The "Body Bag Game" on Monday Night Football. Buddy Ryan's hard-hitting Eagles defense knocked NINE Redskins out of the game, including two QBs. pic.twitter.com/YEJlkYNhNO— Funhouse (@BackAftaThis) April 12, 2020
See ya Sunday, Washington Football Team.